The Five Companions
Audio / June 3, 2017

Released December 2011 Whereas 2010’s Bonus Release ‘The Four Doctors’ took a rather novel approach to a multi-Doctor story by focusing on a new character traversing the Doctor’s personal timeline, 2011’s fuses different eras of Doctor Who together in an altogether more traditional fashion, though still with its own unique twist. As Ian, Steven, Sara, Polly, and Nyssa find themselves brought together and confronted with Daleks, Sontarans, and dinosaurs, ‘The Five Companions’ finds the Doctor directly confronting his past in a thrilling but also very personal tale of survival and reflection. Writer Eddie Robson borrows from ‘The Five Doctors’ and suggests that these past companions are in another part of that serial’s Death Zone on Gallifrey and that the Doctor has been pulled out of his transport to the Capitol to appear at that same area. However, though this is a Fifth Doctor story, the tale wisely focuses on the returning companions themselves, certainly not shying away from the fact that they have aged since leaving the Doctor and allowing moments of reminiscence while showcasing the unique element that each brought to the series while traveling aboard the TARDIS. Obviously Big Finish’s The Companion Chronicles range has kept the earlier…

The Two Doctors
Episode / April 12, 2017

Aired 16 February – 2 March 1985 ‘The Two Doctors’ has a mixed reputation and is unabashedly a far departure from the somewhat lighter and more celebratory nature of the previous multi-Doctor tales ‘The Three Doctors’ and ‘The Five Doctors.’ Indeed, writer Robert Holmes’s trademark cynicism fits in perfectly with the more sinister trajectory Doctor Who began taking under producer John Nathan-Turner, though he also manages to impart a more likable edge to the gruff Sixth Doctor as the character’s insults are tempered by a genuine sense of wit and intelligence, firmly establishing him as the genuine Doctor by the end of events while paired with his second incarnation. Anyone with knowledge of the Second Doctor would be forgiven for thinking that ‘The Two Doctors’ would emphasize the character’s more comedic and impish nature that has only become more fondly remembered in the years since his regeneration. And although Patrick Troughton does prove adept at stealing the scene whenever he can instill a bit of comedy into proceedings, the serial as a whole is incredibly dark. Unfortunately, while the Sixth Doctor is purposefully a bit rough around the edges, even if the more violent means by which the writers chose…

The Eternal Battle
Audio / February 20, 2017

Released February 2017 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The Fourth Doctor Adventures has never shied away from the use of nostalgia and classic foes to tell its tales and crisply recapture its intended era, and the sixth series is already proving that it will be no different. And while there have been some instances in which a nod to continuity or recurrence have not enhanced the script in any meaningful way, ‘The Eternal Battle’ is unquestionably enhanced by the presence of the Sontarans as it explores the futility of war when the TARDIS lands in a Sontaran war zone where strange lights flicker in the air and stranger creatures lurk in the shadows. The Sontarans have always been a unique presence within the Doctor Who universe, imbuing the prospect of a glorious death into their way of life rather than seeing death simply as a means to an end like other combative foes. Yet when the Sontarans here find the ability to die taken away as fallen foes and comrades become reanimated, ‘The Eternal Battle’ offers a deeper and better-rounded look into the mindset and motivations of this classic race than practically any story since ‘The Time Warrior’ has, managing to portray…

The King of Sontar
Audio / February 5, 2017

Released January 2014 The third run of Big Finish’s The Fourth Doctor Adventures once more reunites Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor and Louise Jameson’s Leela, at least temporarily taking a step away from the series’s penchant for nostalgia and opening with a bombastic and very serious tale featuring the oft-mocked Sontarans. As the Third Elite Sontaran Assassination Squad as well as the Doctor and Leela- the latter due to the manipulation of the Time Lords- approach Dowcra Base, the invincible Strang reveals the true might of the Sontaran threat. Without a doubt, the character of Strang is instantly intriguing, raising questions of just what he could have done as a Sontaran to merit such life-threatening animosity of others of his race. Fortunately, the explanation is just as fascinating as he is revealed to be the result of a sort of ghost in the machine, an error in the Sontaran cloning process that condensed an entire platoon into one being and thus created a super-being that is stronger, faster, and smarter than any single individual should be. Equipped with the ability to clone himself as well as to transport matter to any point in the universe, he represents one of the most…

The Invasion of Time
Episode / January 9, 2017

Aired 4 February – 11 March 1978 Returning to Gallifrey, the Doctor demands to be instated into the position of President of the High Council of Time Lords after inexplicably signing a treaty with enemy aliens. After banishing Leela to the wastelands and disabling the planet’s defence barriers to welcome an invasion, the hidden agendas of both the Doctor and the Vardans come into question as another familiar presence lurks in the shadows. The Fourth Doctor has always managed to carry a bit of a darker persona about him no matter how jocular or frivolous he at times seems, and the first half of ‘The Invasion of Time’ wonderfully exploits this aspect of the character as it seems that he has turned against his own people. Baker excels in bringing out a truly frightening menace as events progress, and the manner in which he scorns his former mentor, Borusa, and verbally abuses his companion, Leela, gives credence to the prospect that he really has forsaken the Time Lords in favour of the Vardans whom he manically and gleefully introduces. Of course, there is a method to his madness, and moments such as his pained look as he must keep his…

Terror of the Sontarans
Audio / January 4, 2017

Released September 2016 The Doctor and Mel arrive in a seemingly deserted base once home to monstrous military experiments, its halls once filled with chilling screams. Once the Sontarans arrive to search for any remnants of their research team, though, terror gains an entirely new meaning for the warlike beings as very peculiar occurrences on the planet become known. Sylvester McCoy again excels as the lighter Seventh Doctor that was paired with Mel. As with the previous two releases, it’s a refreshing change of pace to again experience such levity and an overall smaller and more individualized perspective after the incredible burden of continuity that overtook the Seventh Doctor audios during the end of Hex’s tenure in the TARDIS. The Doctor here is a bit more reckless but just as cunning, exclaiming that individuals that had the time to launch a distress beacon can’t have been in too much danger in the first place and that it’s unfair of Mel to suggest that those held in cells are dangerous given his own propensity for ending up in them himself. Fittingly, though, there are undercurrents of the darker side of the Seventh Doctor as he suggests that there are parts of…

The Sontarans
Audio / December 21, 2016

Released December 2016 SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW The Sontarans are, of course, one of the most well-known enemies in the Doctor Who universe, a clone race focused on the glory and honour of warfare and caught in an ages-old battle with the shape-shifting Rutan host. Even allowing for the Second Doctor’s wiped memories following his interactions with the Sixth Doctor in ‘The Two Doctors,’ the Third Doctor seems keenly aware of the Sontarans when he first comes upon them on television in ‘The Time Warrior,’ intimating that they have crossed paths at an earlier time. With the advent of The Early Adventures, writer Simon Guerrier has crafted a stupendous first encounter between the First Doctor and the early sons of Sontar, one in which the futuristic companions of Steven Taylor and Sara Kingdom are one step ahead of the Doctor with their knowledge of the tales of and deeds of their foes. ‘The Sontarans’ manages to achieve an incredible amount in its four episodes as the Doctor comes to understand these new enemies and their unique mindset, strengths, and glaring weakness. What starts off quite simply as a tale of a battle between human Space Security Service soldiers and a group…

The Sontaran Experiment
Episode / November 26, 2016

Aired 22 February – 1 March 1975 ‘The Sontaran Experiment’ sees the return of the titular Sontaran race for the first time since the foe’s debut in ‘The Time Warrior’ as the Doctor and his companions transmat down to anow-healed Earth from Space Station Nerva.’ More notable, though, is that ‘The Sontaran Experiment’ is the first Doctor Who story to be shot entirely on location with no studio sets in what is the first two-part story since the Hartnell era, showcasing the extreme versatility of the programme with little padding. The premise of ‘The Sontaran Experiment’ is simple enough with a single Sontaran, Styre, assessing the strengths of GalSec spacemen in order to determine the best path for a successfull Sontaran invasion of Earth. Yet while the story is, by design, rather straightforward, it achieves a great deal in highlighting the new Doctor as well as the clear direction in which the new behind-the-scenes staff wants to go. Although Sladen and Marter are pushed more to the background as Sarah Jane and Harry, respectively, since there’s no possible way to thoroughly handle all three leads and tell an engaging story in such a limited time, both still give incredibly strong…

Starlight Robbery
Audio / November 16, 2016

Released August 2013 ‘Starlight Robbery’ continues the adventures of an older Seventh Doctor alongside Elizabeth Klein and Will Arrowsmith as they search for the key to an ominous alien technology, stumbling upon an intergalactic arms fair filled with incredibly dangerous individuals and run by the Urodelian criminal Garundel last seen in ‘Black and White.’ With Stuart Milligan’s Garunel taking centre stage, it follows that the story initially takes on a more humourous and light-hearted tone despite the setting threatening creatures surrounding him. The character seems to revel in his campiness, and the self-centeredness and self-confidence he resolutely displays is incredibly effective in making him a likably unlikable presence. This is all the more effective when the story takes a much darker turn leading into its final episode and, accordingly, into the final story of this trilogy, and Milligan is able to adjust his performance wonderfully. Although the Doctor is still at his manipulative best, unafraid to move his companions around to suit his needs even if that means putting them into extremely precarious situations, Klein still suffers from being written as a stereotypical companion rather than as the more nuanced and stringent character she has become over previous story arcs.…

The Time Warrior
Episode / November 14, 2016

Aired 15 December 1973 – 5 January 1974 The start of Jon Pertwee’s final year in the titular role sees a return to Earth’s past, time travel not really a focus of the era and trips in the TARDIS instead preferring the future and alien worlds. The result, in a way, channels the William Hartnell pseudo-historical story ‘The Time Meddler’ while simultaneously feeling like a transition story that showcases the type of format and storytelling that would become so popular in the upcoming Tom Baker era. Perhaps this sort of foreshadowing is intentional as writer Robert Holmes would go on to serve as script editor under Philip Hinchcliffe with the Fourth Doctor, and his active dislike of the true historical brought about the creation of the Sontarans, a race that would go on to become one of the most enduring in Doctor Who’s catalogue. Although the story does feature more action than the horror the future era would become known for, Holmes decidedly presents history as accurately as he can, focusing on the gritty realism rather than the romantic glamour that the history books present. Even new companion Sarah Jane Smith, one who would become arguably the most popular in…